Part Three: Receiving Feedback

You are getting ready to receive feedback from your boss. 

How do you prepare? 

Stay calm, be confident, and remain open and receptive throughout the conversation. Your goal is to be curious, consider asking for examples of what you do well and what you need to improve. Even if the feedback feels unexpected or off-base, do not be defensive. I know—firsthand—that it is not easy to hear negative feedback, and then not defend yourself or explain, but I encourage you to ask questions and do your best to fully understand. It’s possible you have misunderstood them, they miscommunicated, or perhaps there is confusion about your boss’s expectations of you. Take the opportunity to gain more clarity, and try asking prompting questions, like, “Can you give me an example?” or “Tell me more?” or “What do you mean?” Your goal is to fully understand the feedback so that you can process it, while never putting your boss on the defensive.

Next, you want to offer gratitude. Of course, that’s easy if the feedback is positive, but I recommend using this tactic even if you don’t fully agree with the feedback. The key here is the words you choose. As an example, “Theresa, I appreciate the time and effort you put into preparing for this feedback conversation. I’d like to process what you shared and revisit it with you in a couple of days. Does Friday at 2 pm work for you?” Notice that I did not agree or disagree with the assessment, only thanked her for her time and effort, and scheduled a follow-up. Now I have time to get my emotions in check, fully process the shared feedback, and think about moving forward. 

Tomorrow I’ll address what to do with the feedback.

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Kim Martin